As you probably already know, Gaza is under a state of siege. The entrances and exits are closed and basic foodstuffs have fallen into short supply.Today, the electricity network throughout the Strip, serving some 1.5 million people, has fallen into darkness. There is no fuel left. Al-Jazeera is reporing that people have been gathering to light candles and call for an end to the siege.
In Nazareth, as a gesture of solidarity, we are gathering at Mary’s Well tonight (very shortly, which is why this post must be brief for now) to light our own candles and add our voices to those of our brothers and sisters for an end to the siege.
Please, wherever you are, gather together your friends, family and neighbours to hold your own candlelight vigils. Do not let the lights stay out in Gaza. Soon, the backup generators at the already overburdened hospitals will fail. Since water pumps cannot operate without electricity, most will be without this basic element essential to human survival.
The people of Gaza need you. Please do not let them down.
So, we succesfully held our vigil last night and held another one this evening (January 21), deciding to continue to do so every night until the electricity is restored in Gaza and/or until the siege is lifted.
Interestingly, the police stopped us yesterday and demanded IDs from three of those assembled. In Israel, anyone can be asked for ID at anytime and is obliged to produce it. I think they were trying to intimidate us into dispersing. Since most know their legal rights (i.e. any assembly of less then 50 people does not require a permit and we were about 25 people last night) and are not afraid to remind the police of them, they finally let us alone.
There were also two undercovers at the assembly point last night, even before we arrived. They were not very subtle about their identities, hopping into the police car when it pulled up to question people. This evening we did not see any police, so it looks like they decided to back off and let people enjoy their right to freedom of expression and assembly. I will keep you all posted about any other developments in the days to come.
Tomorrow and on Saturday, car convoys from various Arab towns will be driving to the Erez checkpoint to deliver basic goods to Gaza and demand the siege be lifted. It is likely that they will have great difficulty getting any goods across the border given the total closure, but people are going to try anyway. If you can email the Israeli authorities to encourage them to let the goods past the checkpoint, and to lift the siege on Gaza in general, that would be great. Emails can be sent to the Prime Minister’s office by going to this link and filling out the required fields: http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Public+Applications/PublicApplications/.